Reviewed by Michael Goodell
There are many reasons for dining at Woodward, in the Ames Hotel, downtown Boston. One would be the tender and heart-warming short-rib tortellini. Another, the ocean-fresh sautéed rock shrimp, another, the house-smoked veal pastrami sandwich and yet another, an outstanding duck confit flatbread with goat cheese and dried cranberries. I know because I had them all.
Calling it "New England centric", Chef Mark Goldberg's menu creatively links a wide and diverse selection of regional ingredients and brings wonderfully inventive dishes to the table...dish after dish.
They've also put a twist on the dining experience at Woodward by offering a dinner menu with what they refer to as, a "Share" concept. Individual plates await everyone at the table with the intent that as dishes are prepared and delivered (in no particular order), everyone will share the dish. -It's a "Wandering-fork" practitioners’ dream come true!
However, a so's you know note of caution, the "share" dining format (likened to "tapas" style) lends itself to ordering more than you might realize and with that, as was the case with us, a dinner bill that can sail due-North quickly.
Woodward's dessert list was incredibly tempting, we (surprisingly), with great difficulty, resisted the gentle press by our very attentive and informative server.
Finally, and here's the kicker, while we could not stop "ooo-ing" and "aaah-ing" about each dish over and over and over again...the sound in the room, driven by the music volume was deafening. Creating a less than perfect dining experience. Parties shouting across tables to hear one another led me to comment, "Delicious food - Lip reading required." Perhaps the restaurant's management will consider this concern and adjust the volume appropriately.
In spite of that glitch, I know I will return and certainly recommend you try Woodward for yourselves.
Found at the junction of State, Washington, and Court Streets, at the recently opened Ames Hotel, Woodward serves a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Reservations for dinner are strongly advised.
1 Court Street
Reviewed by Michael Goodell
Open just weeks...Market, at the W Hotel Boston, can immediately take its place at the head table of Boston's best-in-class restaurants. Guided by the creative vision of internationally renowned chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Market delivers on its pledge to provide "...cuisine to suit every taste", with a fresh, imaginative and diverse dinner menu that is innovative, layered, visually entrancing and positively; palette pleasing. All that said, Market is a restaurant where a quickly mystified diner, like myself, mixes easily with the most sophisticated epicurean. Appetizer favorites included a delectable Artic Char Sashimi, a Foie Gras Brule and a table pleasing Crisp Clams w/Basil and Salt. Counted among the plate clearing entrees were the Stripped Bass w/Nut and Seed Crust, and Grilled Lamb Chops w/Smoke Chili Glaze. For a side dish, you must consider ordering the Roasted Cauliflower w/pistachios or the Truffle Mash Potatoes...Yum! To cap-off our experience, we were bowled over with heaven sent desserts such as the Creme Fraiche Cheesecake w/Glazed Figs and Concord Grapes and the Market's decadent Warm Chocolate Cake. Located in the heart of Boston's Theater District at the aformentioned W Hotel, Market's interiors carry through the hip urban vibe of the hotel with a decor scheme crossing from metal edgy to Zen reflection. Market is a moderately expensive dining experience. However, if you can make a reason or excuse, it will be well worth the visit. Reservations are recommended. Market is also open for breakfast and lunch.
100 Stuart Street (on the corner of Stuart and Tremont Ave.)
Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale
Reviewed by Michael Goodell
Hearkening back to a bye-gone era of Boston dining, Stoddard's serves a distinctive dinner menu of updated American classic dishes. Equally impressive is Stoddard's extensive and well-developed drink menu. Trust me, it will require some time to explore all of your options. Boasting of 55+ mixed cocktails you won't lack for libation selections to quench your thirst.
Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale
48 Temple Place
The newest underground date spot and late nite lair in the South End, is now open.. Rising from the ashes of the old Icarus space, Noche is the kind of upscale, 100-seat den that feels more South Beach than South End. You and your date will want to sink down into one of the plush booths for orders of Churrasco Skewers and Veal Osso Bucco Ravioli, in between snatches of witty dialogue and a few Chin Chins (Dewar's, champagne, pear nectar). Then you'll throw your evening into fifth gear with a Peanut Butter Martini (nothing says nightcap like Kahlua and tequila... mixed with creamy peanut butter). On a recent visit The steamed Prince Edward mussels in a sweet miso sauce were succulent and plentiful.The sweet glazed BBQ short ribsd are outstanding. For our main course, the peppercorn Parmesan Boursin stuffed chicken breat were utterly delicious. We enjoyed iour experience so, we returned for a late nite snack -Kobe sliders and and suffed Jalapeno. Did I mention that the serivce is tops. The "make you feel you're family" attention is not found in too many restaurants. This is definitely gooing to be one of the South End's most popular destinations. Late hours, Great food and and creative drinks. There's also a new private dining room, which seats 12 and houses a massive, futuristic 60-inch flat-screen TV that doubles as a mirror. A lot of money and care went into revamping this undeground space from the nightlife gurus behind The Federal and The Tap,, and it shows. Hours Sun -Tues 4 -1am,Wed-Sat 4 -2am. Valet parking available.
3 Appleton St. Boston
The long-awaited, elegantly rustic gastropub is now open in the South End.Named, rather morbidly, after the 17th century Washington St pub, this watering hole/comfort foodery located in the former Sage serves up favorites like smoke roasted pork w/ fried green tomatoes and boiled New England corned beef w/ a horseradish vinaigrette, alongside cask ale and a solid beer selection (Whales Tale and 24oz Natural Light in cans), .
You'll want to come here after work , sinking into one of the plush black leather booths to nosh on Foie Gras Poutine, or a half-dozen Island Creek Selects, which are hand-harvested by the IC oyster farmers for their richer, more buttery flavor. For drinks, there's quite a variety: Belgian Delirium Tremens on draft, or White Grasshopper cocktails, served with bendy straws in antique glass milk jugs from the 1930s.The owners (a collective brain trust from the Biltmore, East Coast Grill and Erbaluce) actually bought a barn in Vermont, tore it down, took all of its cypress wood and used it to line the inside of this place.
1395 Washington St, Boston
Coppa: 263 Shawmut Ave. (the former "Dish"). Italian menu (wood-grilled pizzas, small plates of pasta and wine bar) from Ken Oringer and his partner Jamie Bissonette, one of the newest eateries in the South End.
Gaslight Brasserie du Coin
This is another of the successful restaurants under the umbrella of the Aquitaine group of restaurants, and a high-profile brasserie in the burgeoning South End enclave of restaurants. In an old world setting, it's big, bustling and boasts casual elegance. It's open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and weekend brunches. And it's big plus: plenty of free parking.
Gaslight Brasserie du Coin
560 Harrison Ave, Boston
A joint partnership of Bob the Chef's Darryl Settles and Pho Republique's Jack Bardy, this exciting new restaurant/nightclub in the Boston Center of the Arts on Tremont Street is fun and funky.The large space (6500 square feet) takes its cue from an early Parisian arts club, where the likes of Matisse and Chagall spent many hours. There's a bar and limited seating on the upper level, and a much larger space down the wide staircase that has another bar and a stage for the nightly sounds of jazz (courtesy of Berklee College of Music) that will be featured along with the Mediterranean-style menu supervised by chef Adam Halberg.
Beehive, 541 Tremont St., Boston
Atelier 505, the South End's newest luxury condo, can boast a new eatery now that talented pastry chef Rick Katz (of Biba, Bentenwood Cafe and Legal Seafoods fame) has decided to go it on his own with a unique concept of pizza and ice cream. Ordinarily you don't think of the two together, but apparently Rick felt there was a need for something a little different in the restaurant-choked South End, and his small, casual establishment will offer sandwiches, salads, and of course all sorts of gourmet pizza and ice cream treats. A fairly extensive wine bar will also add to the chummy atmosphere It's bound to find an audience not only with the tenants in the posh condo, but also from the newly-expanded Boston Center for the Arts and its two theatres right next door. Go Get 'em Rick!
513 Tremont st, Boston
Union Bar and Grill
And still they come -- more new restaurants cropping up along the renovated Washington Street boulevard in the South End. The latest, a venture of accomplished restaurateurs Jeff Gates, Seth Woods and Matt Burns (Aquitaine, Armani, Metropolis, Mistral) a team that has the experience and know-how to make it work. The Peter Neimitz room decor is ultra chic, catering to the hip crowd that seems to be comfortable in this very happening-now set. A busy bar scene greets you when you enter, and the dining area is welcoming with black leather banquettes and antique wood beams, and long horizontal mirrors to check out the room in between courses. For starters you're served a mini skillet of hot corn bread (gratis), and a wide array of appetizers from which to choose, smoked bluefish, clam chowder, mussels. Along with the entree items -- seared crusted tuna, halibut, rack of lamb, pork -- it's all prepared well. If you're not that hungry, you can opt for a burger ($12) or a Reuben ($14) with overflowing crisp french fries. Service is exceptional. They have a first-class, knowledgeable wait staff who make sure you're content. There's also an extensive wine list and valet parking. All combine to make this newest bistro a real contender in the burgeoning South End dining scene.
Union Bar and Grill
1357 Washington Street, Boston
A long-time hang-out for Boston's hip gay crowd, this restaurant keeps pace with the competing onslaught of new bistros. But what they offer, aside from a fairly sophisticated menu, is entertainment as well. That menu ranges from rack of lamb with a tomato-sage bernaise to grilled halibut with pasta pockets of shrimp and chevril. It's a classy menu and is one of the few bistros in the city that not only offers live entertainment with your dining experience, but you can be served late. They 're open until 1 a.m. And if you're in the mood for just a snack, the burgers and steak tips are more than just fine.
209 Columbus Ave, Boston
B & G Oysters, LTD
Chalk up another entry into the South End restaurant sweepstakes. Is there room for yet another fine dining experience? I guess so. For in less than 2 months, this former French bistro has been transformed into a shiny modern space-- tiny, but with with its textured walls and marble bar, it is a most inviting space. Not surprisingly, they feature an impressive assortment of fresh oysters (I counted 11 varieties), and seafood selections include New England comfort foods, like clam chowder and lobster bisque. The fried Ipswich clams were light and tender, there's scrod and other fish delights as well. There's an extensive wine list, and some different choices for beer. Barbara Lynch and her chef/manager Garret Harker have come up with a nice niche to give variety to the bevy of eating options available in the city's South End neighborhood. They've even transformed the storefront across the street into another specialty restaurant called "The Butcher Shop." It's a charcuterie, where you can not only pick up fresh meats, but dine on a limited menu of panini, salads and other gourmet delicacies, including some luscious sweets. Congratulations to B & G for pushing the envelope when it comes to dining.
B & G Oysters
550 Tremont St., Boston
Now well-ensconced in a former piano factory at the corner of Clarendon and Tremont streets in the South End, Boston-born Gordon Hammersley and his English wife Fiona have created a stalwart dining establishment that has become a favorite of some of the city's most urbane diners. Gordon's grilled mushroom and garlic sandwich will have you craving just one more bite. The chicken with garlic, lemon, and parsley seems to have won the public's choice in the most popular category. His now-famous lemon custard souffle is usually gone unless you're an early diner, but his homemade ice cream desserts are not too tough to take either. (Try the upside-down vanilla cone with hot fudge and hazelnut praline. Wow!) Hammersley's is a "make you feel at home" kind of spot and, now into it's 11th year, it still remains on the upper echelon of the Hub's top dining destinations.
Talented Russ and Sherry Berger saw a need and decided to fill it. "If you build it they will come" seems to be what is happening at the former "Blue Wave" restaurant on Berkeley at the corner of Columbus on the fringe of Boston's South End, which certainly has its fill of fine dining. But there is definitely a difference here. The high cost of gourmet dining has been discounted -- they call it "Frugal Nights" -- Monday-Thursday, the entrees go for ten dollars, no matter what the price reads on the menu. And a varied menu it is. The house-cured salmon pastrami served with buckwheat pancakes and creme fraiche started us off in fine faux "caviar" fashion. Golden trout served with garlic mashed potatoes was more than tasty, the tuna fillet with toasted couscous and pickled ginger was tender and flavorful, and grilled strip steak was cooked to perfection. Everyone loves a bargain, especially one that hits high marks on food, service and ambiance. This is a gourmet find. Three cheers for Laurel . . . frugal dining has never tasted so good!
142 Berkeley Street, Boston
The Delux Cafe has been a well-kept secret by South End residents, but I had occasion to give it a try this week, and it's not only fun and filled with kitsch, but the food was outstanding. Small, as a neighborhood joint should be, its long and narrow walls are filled with memorabilia (Elvis Presley mementos, Xmas tree, tinsel decorating the bar, a lighted Santa, old-fashioned posters, record album covers, pictures, and even a nude painting), plus a legit display of black and white photos by a local artist. How's that for a kitsch atmosphere! Within this framework, the dozen or so Formica tables are filled regularly by those who know they are going to get good food at good prices. (The highest priced entree was $9.95.) Chef Tanya Holland worked in New York and apprenticed at Hammersley's and creates culinary magic in the tiny kitchen. There are daily specials and a limited menu. We started with hummus, roasted garlic, and flatbread that set the stage for what turned out to be an exceptional dining experience. The herbed shrimp salad sandwich on lavash bread was scrumptious, and from the Daily Special list, the penne with spinach and roasted walnuts was ample and tasty. For dessert, we sampled authentic mango sherbet with chunks of mango topped with raspberries and two delicious sugar cookies. At that point, I didn't care that they served no coffee; I was in gustatory heaven. The menu changes every six weeks. The neighborhood crowd may not be happy that I'm spreading the word, but if you're looking for exceptionally prepared food and funky atmosphere, Delux is a culinary delight. And Tanya, you can cook for me any day. Open every day but Sunday from 5:30 -11 p.m,; the bar's open until one.
100 Chandler St. (Corner of Clarendon), Boston
(617) 338- 5258
Aquitaine is spreading its wings. It's now-well-established bistro in the South End on Tremont near Clarendon has branched out into the suburbs and has become quite popular with the Chestnut Hill crowd, in its bistro number two "Aquitaine Bis," smack dab in the shopping plaza on Route 9. The small space has the feel of an authentic French bistro. From traditional onion soup to Chacoute, the Parisian style delicacies -- different ones are featured daily -- are excellent, plus there's a fairly extensive wine menu. The decor is warm and welcoming. I've been to both places, and have had a pleasant dining experience at both. Depending on your preferred location, South End or Chestnut Hill, you'll definitely feel like you're in Paris, at least for an hour or two. Open for lunch and dinner.
Aquitaine, 569 Tremont St., Boston (617) 424-8577
Aquitaine, 11 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, (617) 734-8400
Right across from Blackstone Park on Washington St., Stella is a happening place. With high ceilings, taupe walls and large picture windows, it's become a popular, trendy hangout for the hip crowd. Owners Evan and Candice Deluly honed their respective skills at the popular Bistro 5 in Medford and did well at Torch on Charles Street, at the foot of Beacon Hill. With executive chef Joseph Casssenelli (Mistral, Teatro) at the helm, the Italian-style items on the menu are presented attractively, they are very tasty, and there's enough variety to please the palate. The steamed mussels in white wine and olive oil is a great starter -- make sure you have enough of their garlic bread to sop up the broth. Pastas come in full and half sizes. You can't miss with either the tagliatellle, with its wonderful Bolognese sauce, or the orecchiette in lemony creme fraiche. Their thin-crusted "quattro funghi" pizza is a mushroom lover's delight. There's a wide choice of entrees -- fish, veal or pork -- and the wine list is pretty extensive. The bar right next to the corner entrance gets very busy and noisy. It's not your candlelit romantic spot, but rather more of a party atmosphere. Everyone's happy and having a good time, including the waitstaff, who are knowledgeable and seem to really want to please. One downside: you have to search out parking spots since there is no valet parking.
1525 Washington St., Boston
For a most unusual dining experience -- food, decor, and service, you'd have to go far to beat one of the newest eateries in Boston. Bina Osteria is not your ordinary Italian concept restaurant. The experience and gutsy imagination of the owners, Babak and Azita, the Iranian brother sister team of Lala Rokh and Bin 26 is evident as soon as you enter the establishment at the corner of Washington and Avery Streets (a few doors from the Boston Opera House and across the street from the stylish new Ritz).
Hospitality starts as soon you enter the swank, inviting architect-designed black and white interior: Acoustic friendly, umbrella-like ceiling, an orange-hued welcoming lounge area, Italian terrazzo floor, sleek bar. The most unusal menu created by master chef Brian Konefal (with an able assist from his talented pastry chef wife Paola) includes such creative dishes as spaghetti ala carbonara (house made pancetta, slow cooked hen egg and pecorino), house-made ricotta, lobster with lardo (delicious) and a rich chicken marsala accompanied by a black trumpet mushroom, cipollini puree, topped with translucent skin ressembling a piece of glass). The presentation of all the dishes was superb! Make sure you take time to browse the upscale Italian market "Bina Alimentari" -- fresh burrata, olive oil, pastas, chocolate, cheese, homeade gelati, a wide choice s of wines, and other gastronomic delights.
Once the word gets out, this newest entry in the Boston restaurant scene is bound to find a following...a true adventure in dining right in the heart of the city. Open daily for lunch and dinner, brunch on weekends, and discounted parking available.
571 Washington St, Boston
blu is not that easy to find, but if you enter the building at 4 Avery and take the elevator to the fourth floor, you're there. It's adjacent to the posh L.A. Sports club, and the team of Jody Adams and Michela Larson have done it again. (Rialto and Red Clay were theirs as well). Once inside the wraparound window treatment offers a stunning view of the revitalized Washington St. area. A sleek modern bar and cafeteria take care of the gym folks who serve themselves in the casual cafe area but the formal dining area is "blu at its best." The elegant space and view offer a perfect for the new American cuisine that makes for a true dining experience. Adams and Larson know how to run a restaurant, and this their newest is off and running quite nicely, thank you.
4 Avery Street, Boston
Guest Reviewer: Chef Argold, Brookline
Arriving at the front door to Mantra is not the highlight of the evening. The doorman could be warmer and more receptive and it's not clear how one enters this new and wonderful restaurant, but once inside, things become much better. Management has focused on every detail to make your visit enjoyable and they've done a remarkable job. What was Boston's historic Old Colony Trust Company has become a very comfortable, elegant dining room that is quite spacious. The staff is young, appropriately attentive and friendly. The menu just changed for spring dining and is very interesting. Mantra welcomes you with those little delicious creations of the Chef that were superb. The bread-basket that was passed had warm wheat rolls, pecan-fruit bread, potato bread and nan, an Indian flatbread that was warm and delicious with the whipped butter and pesto-cilantro spread they provide. Milady and I began with the Peekytoe Crab Salad and Littleneck Clams and the Seared Scallops w/Roasted Tomato & Young Leeks. Sound good? Unbelievably delicious. We followed with entrees of Grilled Spring Lamb Loin and Seafood Moily, a fine type of bouillabaisse. Both superbo! Dessert was Pineapple Mousse Shortcake and a Passion Fruit Tart w/Fenugreek Ice Cream. Marvelous! The wine choices are excellent and the prices are fair for the way you're treated. Very special. Clearly one of Boston's very best dining experiences. Oh, yes. One must visit the restrooms. You're in for a surprise!
52 Temple Place, Boston
617 542 8111
Walk into this trendy newest edition to the South End's eatery scene, (the name stems from a martini's perfect chilling temperature) -- and you'd think you're in a Manhattan boite. Dimly lit, with soft cool sounds provided by a live DJ, the sleek modern black and white decor is just plain sexy. The menu follows suit with titles like "raw", "cool" and "hot." Chef Jeremy Sewall, formerly of Great Bay, has come up with the culinary creations -- most designed for sharing, tapas style--to go along with the well stocked bar choices. The yellow fin tuna tartare served with crisp puffed crackers was delicious. The serving of vegetable tempura was ample and tasty dipped in the accompanying mustard sauce.. The braised short ribs served over a bed of garlicky mashed potatoes was outstanding. Other choices: Maine crab "parfait" with avocado and mango, brick-oven pizzas, steamed mussels, crispy calamari. Stay for the surprise entertainment, from fashion shows to solo performers. Looks like this corner of Appleton and Tremont has finally got the temperature right, stirred or shaken, it's a hit!.
One Appleton St, Boston
Max & Dylan's Kitchen and Bar
The newest addition to the Downtown Crossing area is at 15 West St, the former West Street Grill. It's a great late night spot (they're open until1 a.m.) serving upscale American bar food with sleek environs that incorporate two bars – upstairs and down – TVs, hardwood floors and glowing faux votives on the table. They offer a wide variety of reasonably-priced choices --. the very extensive menu features soups, salads, sliders (the mini kobe sliders were exceptional), and macaroni and chees variations, and you have to try their homemade potato chips served with warm roquefort sauce. Incidentally, the name comes from the sons of the owners, who also operate Scollay Square and Tavern on the Water. It's another welcome addition to he constantly-changing Downtown Crossing area.
15 West St., 617-423-3600
JM Curley newest Downtown Crossing
JM Curley, named for the notorious mayor of Boston, at 21 Temple Place. It's from Bina Family Hospitality, which also operates Bona Osteria in the same neighborhood and Lala Rokh and Bin 26 Enoteca on Beacon Hill. Sam Monsour with roots in his family’s restaurant business in North Carolina, will be the executive chef. Lunch items will hover around $10, while dinner entrees (think grass-fed burgers served until 1 AM) will be under $20. There will be a full bar, cocktails, wine and craft beers served until 2 AM.
Four Green Fields
Financial District arrival Four Green Fields specializes in Irish pub fare (with a few American and international twists) and demonstrates Emerald Isle flair with its thatched-roof cottage facade, a long dark-wood bar and live music on Sundays; the high ceilings don’t exactly make the sprawling, bi-level setting (formerly a bank) feel cozy, but Ireland-themed photos and prints add warmth, and a seasonal alfresco patio should add extra appeal.
One Boston Pl.; 617-367-4747
The Financial District’s former U.S. Trust Bank provides a grand setting (columns, vaulted ceilings, marble accents) for Oceanaire Seafood Room, a link in the fancy Minnesota-based seafood chain devoted to fresh fish; tall palms, nickel accents and cherry paneling make it feel more like a steakhouse than a fish house, save for the sweeping raw bar.
Oceanaire Seafood Room
40 Court St. Boston
The Brahmin American Cuisine and Cocktails
A turn-of-the-century-brownstone-ish supper spot decked with copper-topped bars, a fireplace surrounded by dark leather banquettes, and a crystal chandelier'd staircase leading to a downstairs VIP spot, Full bar.
Met Bar Back Bay
The newest addition to the fst growing restaurant group has exclusive private lounges, well-crafted old-school cocktails and a good old-fashioned sandwich bar stocked with specialty hams and local-ish artisan cheeses. Stroll into the Game Room on the ground floor, get in the Boardwalk Empire spirit with something from the ham and cheese bar (think: New Jersey spicy sopressata) and then watch the Pats crush somebody over a few Rivieras (tequila, red jalapenos, ginger). You may want to head upstairs to the Library for some oversized (read: 10-ounce) classic cocktails using ice freshly shaved from a giant block, before claiming a leathery booth in the Living Room. There, you’ll drink in the floor-to-ceiling views of Newbury while splitting something from the grill (the 32-ounce, dry-aged rib eye for two seems right). In addition, they have a private, purple velvet-adorned Townhouse Room secretly attached upstairs, which you can access after buying a membership card, with cocktail waitresses attending to your needs inside by way of a button you press at your table.
Met Back Bay, 279 Dartmouth St, Boaton
Bistro du Midi
I finally got around to visiting one of the Hub's newest eateries and have to report that it was an outstanding experience. Formally Excelsior and Biba before that, the newest incarnation on Boylston Street is inviting and comfortable. There's a more casual bar area on the first level and a more formal dining room on the second.with a glowing fireplace and a view over the Public Garden. The food is influenced by the Midi region in Souther France's Provence...and executed nicely by chef Robert Sisca, formerly of Le Bernadin in Manhattan. You won't find as tasty and well prepared sea food dishes as those at this Bistro. I'd recommend the marinated bay scallops to start and for your main course, you won't go wrong with either the pan-roasted cod or the grilled sea bass. Seafood is their specialty The menu is varied enough to offer a wide choice of meat dishes as well And for dessert, a choice of either chocolate or Grand Marnier souffle or froaen almond and orange cake was a perfect closing. Yo u don't have to travel to the South of France to experience great Seafood dishes., they're right in our own backyard.! The service is attentive and non-intrusive. The wait staff is knowledable and are there to give full explanations of the various items on the extensive menu. I can't wait to return to give some of the other dishes a try. Make this one a must on your restaurant circuit.
Bistro du Midi
272 Boylston Street, Boston
Executive chef Eric Brennan cranks out moderately priced American classics from two shining exposed kitchens at Post 390, a saucy urban tavern in the Back Bay from the Himmel Hospitality Group (Grill 23, Harvest, Bidstro du Midi). The bi-level space features black glazed columns, wood-slatted walls, a four-sided fireplace, a bar downstairs, private dining and views of bustling Copley Square all around.
406 Stuart St., Boston
L'Espalier in the the Mandarin Oriental in the Back Bay
Chef Frank McClelland’s renowned L’Espalier, long situated in a Back Bay townhouse is now offering its high end French and contemporary menu on the second floor of the chic Mandarin Hotel From foie gras to Casco Bay lobster, The tasty menu, and the custom service is second to none. Its comparatively small space ( 12 tables ) is open for lunch and dinner and the cuisine is prepared daily with fresh, local ingredients is something to savor. The large windows overlook busy Boylston st. A great spot for celebratory dining. Expensive...But so worth it.
Espalier 774 Boylston St, Boston
617 262 3023
Bin 26 Enoteca
With their popular Persian restaurant, Lala Rokh (around the corner on Mt. Vernon Street) a big success, brother and sister Babbak Bina and Azita Bina-Seibel seem to have a deft magic touch when it comes to restaurants. Their current endeavor is Bin 26 Enoteca, a low-key contemporary wine bar and restaurant that's building a major neighborhood following in the Beacon Hill area in the space formerly occupied by Torch restaurant.
There are many "Enotekas" throughout Italy, where one is served simple food to accompany wine. "Bin", followed by a number, is the physical location where the bottle is located in the wine cellar. In this case it's 26 Charles St. With some 250 wines (50-75 by the glass alone) you tend to forget that the food, whether snacks at the popular bar in the front of the restaurant or full course meals, is what this brother and sister act excel at. The decor is clubby, comfortable, and highly original. They've cornered the cork market. They cover the walls and the ceiling. Wine bottles are everywhere -- even the bathrooms have wine bottles hanging from the ceiling.
Chef Azita certainly knows her way around the kitchen. Among the choice appetizer selections we loved the chicken pate, and mozzarella wrapped and roasted in crispy Speck. For main courses the linguine sauteed with sea scallops and shrimp garlic and white wine was tasty and delicious. Ditto for the hanger steak served with spinach and a peppercorn cream sauce. Leave room for desserts. We tried a superior molten chocolate cake, which was devoured, as was the strawberry Millefeuille with crackling lace cookies covering fresh strawberries and mascarpone cream. Bin 26 is open from lunch straight through dinner. The bar is always busy.
This is not your ordinary neighborhood hangout, and although it's taken me a while to get there, you can be sure, I'll be back on a regular basis.
Valet parking available..
Bin 26 Enoteca
26 Charles St., Boston
Smith and Wollensky
Just what Boston needs -- another high-priced steak house! But if anyone is up to the challenge, this national chain has proven they've got the smarts to make it happen. For openers, they have transformed the former Park Plaza Castle (diagonally across the street from the Park Plaza Hotel) into a four-story eating emporium that has an old-world private club feel to it. Mega-bucks have gone into creating four distinct and attractive eating areas. The decor is definitely old-world Boston, with the prime spots on the first and second levels. Name your cut of steak and it's on the menu…prime rib, sirloin, New York cut. The sides are all a la carte and pricey, and if meat is not your bag, there's lobster, shrimp and oysters -- name your style and they've got it. The extensive menu is presented in glass frames and the wait staff is friendly and professional. It's worth a trip just to see what an amazing transformation has occurred in this cavernous1891 armory -- you'd never recognize it. The entrance is now on Arlington Street, and there is valet parking. Time will tell if another swanky steak house (with a Ruth's Chris eatery about to open in the former Maison Robert digs in Old City Hall on School Street) can keep up with the regulars, or make its mark by setting the bar even higher.
Smith & Wollensky
101 Arlington St, Boston
Legal Sea Foods
When visitors come to Boston, the first place that comes to mind for shopping is Filene's Basement, and when they are ready to dine at a traditionally Boston restaurant, Legal Sea Foods is where they want to go. It's become nationally famous for the wide choice of fresh seafood available at their many locations. Fish is their mainstay - over 30 varieties are served daily, your choice: boiled, baked, broiled, fried, steamed. There are four sites in the city, others north (Logan Airport), west and south of Boston. After 40 years in business, the Berkowitz family is spreading their wings -- New York, Washington, and Florida -- and their reputation precedes them. Their New England clam chowder is the choice of presidents. It has been served at four presidential inaugurations. Be prepared to wait, as they take no reservations, but the wait is worth it. When it comes to fresh fish in so many varieties, the tourists flock for the fish, as do the locals, who despite the bevy of new restaurants in the area, love Legal's. . The cxrown jewel of the Legal restaurant empire is doing brisk business in the Seaport District on the waterfront. It's three floor of varied dining--casual on the first level, more upscale on the second and the third le vel with retractable roof for cocktails and sancks. For more information, visit legalseafoods.com.
Legal Sea Foods26 Park Square, Boston, (617) 426-4444
Copley Place, Huntington Ave., (617) 266-7775
Prudential Center, Boylston St., (617) 266- 6800
255 State St, Boston, (617) 227-3115
Logan Airport, Terminals A, B & C, (617) 568-2800
Stephanie's on Newbury Street
Reviewed by Rene - "Boston's Gal About Town"
A sumptuous haven with a buzzing bar and bustling dining room sits in the heart of Newbury Street, and it's just what Boston has been crying for. Stephanie's is an uplifting New York-style, sophisticated bistro that mixes well with the young professionals and the over 50 crowd. Where else can you get such an eclectic assortment of appetizers as Dora's matzo ball chicken soup, shrimp risotto fritters, or smoked salmon with potato pancakes? Their wonderful salads and sandwiches include fresh tuna nicoise, grilled tenderloin salad and a most unusual Cobb salad. Other choices: cedar plank salmon, double-thick, char-grilled pork chop, old fashioned meat loaf, and southern fried chicken. Everything I have tried -- and I have eaten up and down this menu -- is truly mouth-watering. It's dynamite presentation very reasonably priced, with nice, congenial servers and most attentive managers -- Matt and John. And remember, spring is around the corner, and their sidewalk bistro is very popular. Make your reservations early.
Lunch is served starting at 11:30 a.m. and dinner from 5:30 -10:30 p.m. This one is hard to beat.
190 Newbury Street, Boston
Jasper White's Summer Shack
One of the Hub's master food gurus has latched on to a winner. His reputation with lobster (he's written a book on the subject) and other sea food items as well, has come up with a no-frills atmosphere where the emphasis is strictly on the food. And he knows food. Not as large as his first Shack at Fresh Pond in Cambridge, his newest entry in Boston (the former Cheri Movie House) next door to a bowling alley (King's) is a tad smaller and more rustic with patrons actually ordering and serving cafeteria-style. Still there's a chic air to the place and you can't go wrong with White's trademarked pan-roasted lobster. A wide variety of seafood is offered, along with some retro favorites like corn dogs and meatloaf. White's celebrity status has added a third restaurant with the White imprimatur, the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. In the Boston digs, you'll have a chance to chat with some Boston Brahmins who also seem to enjoy the unique delights of White's lobster and other marine creatures in a no-frills atmosphere.
Jasper White's Summer Shack
50 Dalton St., Boston
The former Cambridge 1's gotten a rustic, wood-heavy overhaul, as this warm 115-seater now rocks cherry wood paneling, string patio lighting, communal tables crafted from reclaimed church doors/ bowling alleys, and vintage Southern-inspired memorabilia/ signage, some of which's been hammered from old Quaker State metal oil cans.They've got nine types of falling off-the-bone meats smoked with oak/maple (from pork belly and short ribs to brisket, pulled chicken, and whole turkey legs), all on either metal butcher paper-lined sheet trays or as griddled Texas toast sammies, and plated with a choice of one hot/ one cold "scoop" (broccoli cheese casserole, heirloom baked beans, collard greens); there're also buckets of biscuits, "hot & crispy" sides (fried okra, hush puppies & fried green tomatoes), and desserts like banana pudding and whitetrash fruit salad.Liquid nourishment's served in Mason/ jam jars (shots & cocktails too!) and includes over 50 draft/ can/ 22oz bottled brews (Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, Lone Star, Butternuts Porkslap, Dark Horse Crooked Tree), 35-plus whiskeys, and carefully curated craft cocktails.
1381 Boylston St.